Serendipity. That is what we are going to call it. After all, today’s little bit of happiness meets the definition of “the occurrence and development of events by chance in a beneficial way.” How is that different from lucky? Well, I am not quite sure, but things certainly worked out and as my father would say, I’d rather be lucky, or is it serendipitous, than smart any day. So, with a nod toward fortune smiling on us, won’t you join me now as we stand and make the Barbados Cocktail.
First off, I want to be abundantly clear that there was no witchcraft or dark dealing involved in the creation of this cocktail. None, at all. I got no truck with no devil, though I clearly had some with Arthur Miller. I was just out minding my own business, doing a little shopping, picking up limes and other sundries when I came across an elusive bottle of Jamaican Coruba Rum and an easier to find but nonetheless excellent bottle of Maggie’s Farm Falernum out of Pittsburgh. I was excited with my finds and headed home to make a drink. That was when I discovered this cocktail in A.J. Rathbun’s, Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz. I had never heard of it, but it did have the advantage of containing the exact contents of my shopping bag with my oddball rum find called out by name. Serendipitous, indeed.
Grab your mixing tins and pop in 1 1/2 ounces of dark rum, “such as Coruba” the recipe said. To that add 1 ounce of Falernum, I went with Maggie’s Farm and 3/4 of an ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice. That’s it. Toss in some of that artisanal ice and give it a good shake to the beat of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers singing “You Got Lucky“. When well chilled, double strain into a coupe and garnish with a dehydrated lime.
That is something else. It’s booze-forward, but the rum sort of fades into the lime, ginger and cloveness of that Maggie’s Farm take on falernum. You can really tell that they have leaned into the citrus and spice side of this liqueur. I like that, a lot. The wife thought it was a bit tart, which is fair. I blame my limes. Just for kicks, I mean, in the interest of science, we made it again with the old standard John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, which is sweeter but less complex, more like a lime simple syrup or cordial. That second version was a bit smoother, less tart on the tongue with the rum more forward. I liked the Maggie’s Farm version, the wife preferred the Velvet. As different as the drinks were, we could not decide if one was better than the other, perhaps the answer lies somewhere in the middle with a split of the falernums. While I really love the complexity and brightness of the Maggie’s Farm, I should have pulled back on my tart lime juice to balance it.
It just goes to show that even with all the luck in the world you still have to taste your ingredients and make adjustments. Sometimes the limes are tarter than usual, falernum makers have a different approach to the base recipe and the rums are all over the place. So experiment and find what works for you. That is always good advice. Whether in your glass or in your life, try as many things as you can. Some are going to work and some are not. That’s a feature, not a bug. Keep the things that speak to you and toss the ones you don’t get, but only after trying them. That’s the key. You don’t get any experience points for judging the books by their covers, you have to read them before deciding they aren’t for you. Trust me on this. Try as many things as you are comfortable with and, especially, some of the things you are not comfortable with and you will be on the path to a fuller, more enriching life. That has mostly worked out for me. Of course, I have been lucky, your mileage may vary. Keep it between the lines and stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.
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